Houston Informer, October 27, 1945.  Used with permission of the Houston Informer

What We Want in Education


There are some whites, who, assuming that Negroes have adequate educational facilities, believe that he present outcry about the woeful discrepancies is just agitation by a few radical Negroes. There are some others who believe that Negroes are anxious to attend white schools for social prestige and just to associate with whites. It might be wise for Negroes to state what they want in education as a means of clarifying these misapprehensions.

There are other whites, more or less familiar with educational problems who assume that Dr. Banks, the dean of Negro education in Texas, is qualified and inevitably the natural spokesman for Negroes in the educational field. These people are inclined to give unusual weight to the things Dr. Banks says, and to lull themselves into a sense of security on the theory that Dr. Banks is expressing what Negroes want.

Negroes have no yen to attend the University of Texas or A & M college. Negroes want made available to them an adequate system of education through which they can train men and women as teacher, leaders, professional men and other essential services necessary to any group of people. In addition, they want sufficiently advanced courses to enable Negroes to enter new fields and to be ready to take advantage of new discoveries, and thus find larger places of service and employment. It can be safely said that the majority of Negroes want adequate and sufficient opportunities for education and are not presently geared for an anti-segregation fight. Their willingness to destroy segregation springs from a realization that segregation as presently administered lies at the root of the inequality from which they suffer today.

Now, it is true that Dr. Banks could make a qualified spokesman for what Negroes want, but is just happens that Dr. Banks is principal of Prairie View and concerned first and primarily with the continuance of that school. It also happens that the over-all picture of what Negroes want, and what seems immediately important to Dr. Banks for the continued existence of Prairie View, are not on all fours or do not coincide at present. So caught with the obligation of maneuvering for sufficient funds to hold his faculty and to keep his school, Dr. Banks has been practically forced outside of the larger reaches of what Negroes want, though the desperate struggle for the continuance of Prairie View in the crucial fight of Negro colleges throughout the South to make the grade of first-rate schools

But in the desire of Negroes for adequate education, Prairie View is only one facet. Negroes want adequate educational facilities form the graduate level down through the elementary level. By the very nature of the things it is impractical to expect a man on the college level to be able to speak authoritatively and conclusively for Negroes on the other levels.

Despite the fact that the present Governor and the Legislature have been reactionary and evasive, Negroes believe that the greatest obstacle toward an acceptable step in the direction of equalization of education lies in complacency. This continuing inertia fills most Negroes with discouragement and dismay. Neither the false prophets nor the reactionaries seem as formidable as the ignorance and inertial of the masses of whites.

Those of us who have been called radicals were so styled because we were pointing out the approach of this problem months and years before it became obvious. At the risk of again being called radical, we are repeating the warning that what Texas and the South need is more leadership and statesmanship in the ask [sic] of understanding and of working at the solution of the interracial problem. Floundering in a flood of plaguing waters rushing toward us with increasing speed are the problems of GI education, problems of inequality of teachers pay, problems of utter lack of professional, industrial art and many other categories of training for Negroes in Texas.

When these rivulets reach us, they are likely to catch us between the newly emancipated vote of Negroes and the implaceable [sic] righteousness of returning veterans, who seek fulfillment of the democracy for which they fought and died. Statesmanship could save much money, much pain and much anguish; ignorance and reactionarism [sic] will cost the people dearly.